Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hamada and Kawai pottery acquisitions

WaSabiDou Antiques & Folk Crafts has recently acquired two wonderful pieces of mingei-inspired work by two important 20th Century Japanese Potters. First is a Tea Bowl by the late Shoji Hamada, National Living Treasure (Ningen Kokuho.) The second is a Kogo Incense Container by Takeichi Kawai, nephew and kiln successor to Kanjiro Kawai; who along with Soetsu Yanagi, Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, and others, was an instrumental first-generation Mingei (Folk Craft) Movement member. Both pieces were made in 1972 and have an excellent provenance.
The Aka-e Chawan (Red Overglaze Enamel Tea Bowl) is an interesting example of Hamada's work and interest in Okinawa. Hamada often spent winters making pots in Okinawa, and sometimes compled the glaze firing back in Mashiko. Another feature is the faceted sides. Rather than a smooth-surfaced round tea bowl, nine faceted "windows" contain classic quick brush-stroked patterns by Hamada. The piece was recently authenticated by his son, Shinsaku Hamada, with the following comments, "This bowl was made by hand at Tsuboya, Okinawa, by Hamada Shoji and brought back to Mashiko to complete firing at Hamada Shoji's aka-e kiln there. Around the rim, there are some small areas of glaze loss, but this is not a problem. It is a very fine piece." The bowl comes with a custom-made signed wooden box.
The kogo by Takeichi Kawai shows the continuation of Kanjiro Kawai's influence on his kiln's successor. Form and color are classic Kawai in this lovely piece. A kogo is used to hold incense, with fine pieces often placed in the tokonoma (alcove) of the tea room during tea ceremony. This piece combines the rugged nature of folk craft, along with Kawai's artistic sensibilities with an elegant shape.

Both items available for sale and would made a great addition to a museum or personal collection of important mingei-related work. I think that both Hamada and Kawai would actually like to see them put to use to realize their true beauty. For more information and images on these, and other craft items, please visit the catalog on my website,

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